Home & Leisure

Everyday Cheapskate: Clever Ways to Use This for That to Save Time and Money

Mary Hunt on

Recently as I was halfway out the door, car keys in hand, on the way to the home improvement center, I remembered I might already have what I needed. Cooking spray! That's it. I'd heard it just might work. It did, and quite perfectly, too. No more squeaks, and I saved a trip and purchase, too.

There must be thousands of ways we can save time and money by finding clever ways to use "this" for "that." Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing!

-- Cooking spray. Got a squeaky door or sticky drawer? Spritz a little cooking spray on the hinges or drawer slides, then work it back and forth to distribute the "lubricant." Wipe away any drips with a paper towel.

-- Baby gate. Use an old baby gate as a drying rack for sweaters or other hand-washables that need to dry flat. Lay it flat side-to-side over the bathtub, adjusting the width of the gate as necessary. Now air circulates well, and that sweater will be dry in no time.

-- Mayonnaise. Use mayonnaise to get rid of white water rings on wood furniture. Make sure the area is completely dry, then spread enough full-fat mayonnaise on the spot. Let it sit for several hours, even overnight. Now wipe it clean, and buff with a soft, clean cloth. Magical, isn't it?

-- Cardboard drink holders. If you're anxious to tidy up a cluttered drawer, repurpose a clean cardboard drink holder to help divide and organize various items like office supplies, makeup, kitchen utensils or smaller clothing items like socks and underwear. Use one of those nifty holders in a drawer or cupboard to segregate cords and cables. How about using them to arrange items in your refrigerator? Or (there's more!), with a touch of paint and creativity, use it to keep your dresser top neat and tidy. The possibilities just go on and on!

-- Eyeglasses case. Don't toss out that spare eyeglasses case. It can be used to protect your jewelry in your suitcase. Or how about that collection of crochet hooks rolling around in a drawer? They'll fit nicely into a case. One can also make for a dandy manicure kit, or emergency first aid or sewing kit. Kinda makes you wish you had several cases, doesn't it? Here's one more: storage bin for those rascally earbuds.

-- Bread tabs. Save those little plastic bread tabs to use as labels to mark various power cords, especially the ones in remote places like behind the entertainment center. Use a permanent marker to write "Printer," "DVD," etc. on the tab. Next, slip it onto that cord or cable. Done!


-- Pickle juice. Whenever eggs go on sale, buy extra and hard-cook them. Then peel and drop them into jars of leftover pickle juice, and keep them in the fridge. The pickled eggs are great shredded into potato salad or casseroles, atop green salad, for quick and tasty egg salad (shredded, with mayonnaise) or even eaten whole as a snack.

-- Shower curtain. Got an old shower curtain? Even if it's no longer good enough for its original purpose, there are several ways to extend its useful life: Use it to cover your patio furniture or barbecue next winter. Connect it with bungee cords. Or keep it in the truck of your car as a tarp for roadside emergencies in the event you need to sit on the ground, change a tire, or make a quick underbody repair.

-- Mesh bag. A mesh onion bag is perfect for cleaning and storing cookie cutters and other small kitchen utensils. Just load up those dirty items, cinch the bag to close it, then set it on the top dishwasher rack for easy cleaning.

-- Water spots. Look for Rain-X in the automotive aisle of your favorite discount store. It's sold as a product to keep windshields free of water spots and help rain to sheet off windows. It works great on tub and shower walls to keep hard water stains from building up.

-- Rubber band. Got an annoying stripped-out screw that you need to remove? Easy! To get a better rip, trap one side of a wide rubber band (use one that you saved from that last bundle of fresh broccoli) between the screwdriver and the screw head. Now give it a try.


Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate Inc.



John Darkow Christopher Weyant Dinette Set Jack Ohman Humor Me (Leave Caption In Comments) Doonesbury